Great places to live: Nova Scotia and Newfoundland

Lunenburg, NS
Lunenburg was the first British colonial settlement in Nova Scotia after Halifax, 92 kilometres to the northeast. Its more than 200 years in fishing, shipbuilding and marine-related industries is reflected today along the town’s waterfront. Although the municipality of Lunenburg has a population of about 25,500, it has maintained its small-town character. Easy access to Halifax, links with the Annapolis Valley, the New England states, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island make this town a popular residence. The Old Town of Lunenburg has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Watching the weather
Average Jan. temp (daily mean): -5.1 C
Average July temp (daily mean): 18.9 C
Annual rainfall: 1,323.1 mm
Annual snowfall: 199.8 cm

Setting up house
Bungalow: $90,000 to $150,000
Standard two-storey: $225,000 to $275,000 in Old Town; $100,000 to $150,000 in Old Town if restoration needed; $250,000 to $350,000 in newer part of town (dating from the 1920s). A little known fact, according to Gale Armstrong of Claussen Walters and Associates, is tt there is a collection of beautiful Arts and Crafts-style homes in Lunenburg; these may sell for $200,000 to $425,000.
Condominium: $190,000
Monthly rent on a two-bedroom apartment: $750

Getting around
There’s a daily bus service through Lunenburg. The Halifax International Airport provides full commercial and passenger air services. A network of 25,800 kilometres (16,035 miles) of roads and ferry operations in Nova Scotia ensures easy access to other provinces and to the United States.

Enjoying your life
The spotlight shines on Canadian singers as Maritime Concert Opera presents operas in a simple concert setting without staging or fancy costumes. During the Folk Harbour Festival, less formal music is heard around town. Oktoberfest honours Lunenburg’s German heritage, something especially interesting to its genealogical society members. The town has a regional library branch and, fittingly, a Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic. Lunenburg, the famous Bluenose II schooner’s home port, also has a yacht club. Lobster crate racing is a popular feature of the annual Fishermen’s Picnic and Reunion in August. The finest of Nova Scotia’s artisans are represented at the Lunenburg Craft Festival. In winter, the Municipal Activity and Recreation Complex offers cross-country ski trails, tobogganing and skating. Players on the challenging nine-hole Bluenose Golf Course may be distracted by the famous vista of the town, which lies just across the harbour.

Calling the doctor
• Fishermen’s Memorial Hospital (Medical) has 43 beds and support facilities for medical, outpatient, emergency and long-term care. The hospital is equipped with diagnostic and treatment services including: laboratory, EKG, diagnostic imaging, bone densitometry, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and a Diabetes Education Centre.
• The Lunenburg Medical-Dental Centre (Medical) and the Physioclinic (Physiotherapy).
• Seven family physicians and two dentists.
• Long-term care: Harbour View Haven has 127 beds.
• To find a family physician who is accepting patients, call 902-424-3047 or visit

What they’re saying
“There is an openness to the community in Lunenburg. It’s been easy to meet people and make good friends here. But one has to be willing to reach out. If you don’t have the personality to be social, then living alone in the woods would be more suitable. That’s not what I was looking for. I like living right in town.”  Inge Hatton

“Lunenburg has a vibrant group of people here with nerve and drive, not interested in safety and retirement. They’re people who moved to Lunenburg to try new things. They have to be in an economic position to come here without a job, so they tend to be fairly affluent and educated.”  John McGee

Next page: Amherst, NS

Amherst, NS
The slogan for the town of Amherst near the border with New Brunswick is “Faith in our people, pride in our products.” The original town was established in 1764, following the expulsion of the Acadians. New England settlers were welcomed, a grist mill and tannery were built and the railway soon followed. In 1908, the manufacturing output of Amherst was not exceeded by any centre in the Maritime provinces. The population of 10,000 and growing is in the geographical centre of the Maritime provinces, a two-hour drive from Halifax and a half-hour drive from Moncton. The Confederation Bridge linking New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island is less than 45 minutes away. Some of the town’s stately homes are close to 200 years old. The Northumberland Strait boasts the warmest salt water north of the Carolinas.

Watching the weather
Average Jan. temp (daily mean):  -7.6 C
Average July temp (daily mean): 17.5 C
Annual rainfall: 934.1 mm
Annual snowfall: 229.9 cm

Setting up house
Bungalow: $120,000
Standard two-storey: $180,000 to $225,000 (for up to a 20-year-old house)
Condominium: No condos yet but, according to Coldwell Banker Performance Realty, there may be one coming soon
Monthly rent on a two-bedroom apartment: $500

Getting around
Although Amherst doesn’t have a local transit system, the town offers direct access to the four-lane Trans-Canada Highway and Via Rail service at its Heritage Railway Station. The full-service international airport in Moncton, N.B., is just a 35-minute drive away.

Enjoying your life
The Cumberland County Museum houses archives, including genealogical records and a fine art collection. West of town, the Fort Lawrence/Beaubassin Heritage Association volunteers are reconstructing the original English fort and Acadian village. The popular Tantramar Theatre Festival, housed in the town’s old post office, mounts a matinee for children, plus two productions for grownups over a five-week period each summer. Walking and hiking the town’s trails and swimming or working out at the YMCA helps maintain fitness here. There are several sites for playing or watching baseball or soccer, some with tennis or basketball courts. The Amherst Ramblers, a Junior A hockey team, has a solid fan base. Good food attracts shoppers to the farmers’ markets. Golfers may find wind from the Northumberland Strait challenging at the 18-hole Amherst Golf Club. 

Calling the doctor
• Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre is an acute-care facility with 65 beds offering the following services: Level 2 Emergency, ICU, surgery, medical lab, diagnostic imaging with CT scan, pharmacy, respiratory therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy.
• Amherst has one clinic while Cumberland County has various clinics in hospitals and healthcare centres.
• 28 doctors (21 family physicians, seven specialists); five full time and one part time dentist.
• Long-term care: one nursing home in Amherst and four others in Cumberland County.
• Cumberland County offers added health-care services, with three hospitals and two health-care centres and 15 more general practitioners.

What they’re sayng
“Amherst, the birthplace of four of the fathers of Confederation, is steeped in history and has a nice blend of the old and the new. Being the geographic centre of the Maritimes, it is in close proximity to golf courses, sandy beaches, a ski hill, a winery and an international airport. What more could one ask for?”  Cyril Reid

Next page: Corner Brook, NFLD

Corner Brook, NFLD
Corner Brook, population about 22,000, is situated along the southern shore of the Bay of Islands in west central Newfoundland at the mouth of the Humber River. The effects of early glaciation on the surrounding Long Range Mountains, which is a continuation of the Appalachian belt stretching up from the New England states, makes the landscape of Corner Brook spectacular.

Watching the weather
Average Jan. temp (daily mean): -6.1 C
Average July temp (daily mean): 17.3 C
Annual rainfall: 848.9 mm
Annual snowfall: 421.9 cm

Setting up house
Bungalow: $85,000 to $100,000
Standard two-storey: $95,000 to $110,000
Condominium: No condos yet
Monthly rent on a two-bedroom apartment: $425 to $475
(Source: Dave Wells, Re/Max Realty Professionals)
Getting around
Corner Brook has two regional airports within a one-hour drive – Deer Lake and Stephenville. The port offers ferry service: Marine Atlantic offers year-round trips between North Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, which is 210 kilometres from Corner Brook on the Trans-Canada Highway. The regular schedule is expanded during the summer tourist season to accommodate increased passenger traffic.

Enjoying your life
The Arts and Culture Centre features a theatre, art gallery and swimming pool. Computer training is available at the public library, and the College of the North Atlantic offers personal interest courses. Memorial University’s Sir Wilfred Grenfell College runs a film series in its art gallery. The city’s past reposes in the Museum and Archives with displays illustrating the local pulp and paper industry and the history of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. It’s impossible to feel like a hangashore (an unlucky person deserving pity) during the rousing Hangashore Fold Festival in July. When the great outdoors beckons, walk the Corner Brook Stream Trail, swim at Margaret Bowater Park, hunt, fish, sail, kayak or take a boat tour. Winter brings back-country and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. Less strenuous activity includes bowling, a visit to a cinema or watching the annual lumberjack challenge. The 18-hole Blomidon Golf and Country Club has views of the Blomidon Mountains, the Bay of Islands and the city.

Calling the doctor
• Western Memorial Regional Hospital serves Corner Brook and surrounding areas, offering services including: cardiology, geriatrics, internal medicine and surgery, nephrology, neurology ophthalmology, orthopedics, psychiatry, urology and diagnostic and laboratory services.
• Four clinics.
• 46 family doctors, 22 specialists, five dentists.
• Long-term care: Interfaith Home for Senior Citizens has 105-beds and the J.I. O’Connell Centre has 68 long-term care beds and an eight-bed adult rehabilitation unit.

What they’re saying
“Corner Brook is a great place to live, not only because of its sheer beauty. It’s a sportsman’s paradise. We’re five minutes from world-class skiing, cross-country trails, salmon fishing in the Humber River and only 45 minutes from the beauty of Gros Morne. This is absolutely the best place in all of Newfoundland.”  David Mills

Fun fact
Corner Brook is Canada’s snowiest city with an annual average snowfall of almost 422 centimetres.

Provincial fact
In 2002, Newfoundland and Labrador had the second lowest incidence of total Criminal Code offences in Canada, with 5,832 per 100,000 population (Quebec was lowest with 5,697).